IT STARTS WITH SOME PERKY BOSSA NOVA, AND ends with a trip-hop pastiche called ‘In Bristol With A Pistol’. Indeed, there are jokes aplenty to be found on Matt Elliot’s third album of haunted, wracked noise-making, but you’d have to be pretty warped to laugh.
His last effort, ‘Ghost’ was supposed to be sad, and ended up a terrifying odyssey through a junkyard of malevolent sound. Its eagerly-awaited follow-up displays a great deal of black humour (‘You Guys Kill Me’ amusingly features on its cover a portrait of history’s most iconic murder victim, Jesus, for starters), but it’s probably the most magnificently desolate record you’ll hear this year.
It’s as though the sounds of muted pain and slow decay have all got together for a grand old wake. Sea creatures moan inconsolably as a carousel rusts to a dissonant halt. Distant strings wail in sympathy throughout, as though an orchestra was being buried alive. Some strangled opera singers even turn up on the fantastic ‘An Even Harder Shade Of Dark’ to add to the sense of catastrophically faded opulence that permeates this record so totally.
And then there’s the beats: vestiges of his native town’s trip-hop still pulsate in amidst the urgent junglist breaks, Elliot’s last major innovation. But even these have evolved, sometimes out of all recognition thrown into clattering drum’n’bass mincer. Matt Elliot, the beat technician, clearly deserves your respect, as well as your troubled tears.